Harmless cold care: Part 1 of 2

I just did battle with my first cold of the season. I am someone who pretty rarely gets sick - If I'm remembering correctly, that was my first cold in well over a year. I'm also someone who just so happens to get a million side effects every time I take antibiotics and over-the-counter drugs (which tend to contain plenty of ingredients I don't love, like artificial color), so I prefer to save those for when I absolutely need them - Plus, I'm not too anxious to live in a post-antibiotic world, which the CDC just warned us is the direction we are headed if we don't curb our nation's high levels of antibiotics use. So, instead of turning to antibiotics at the first sign of a potential sinus infection, I like to employ a few natural options first, and the vast majority of the time, my immune system gets the boost it needed and I can knock the cold out without much effort.

At a few points, the cold I dealt with last week looked a bit like strep throat, so I popped into my doctor's office to get a swab test. Since the test was negative (yay!), my wonderful doctor sent me home with a few immune boosters to help my body conquer the virus. Here's a list of what she sent me home with (I'm a nursing mom, so these represent only the breastfeeding-friendly options):

- Vitamin C: This is probably already one of the first things you reach for when you are starting to feel a cold coming on. I was told to take a 500mg tablet 3 to 4 times a day.
- Umcka: This gentle herb-based cold syrup is a standard in Germany, where I lived as a little girl, so I was delighted when my doctor recommended I take a dose of this 3 to 4 times a day to reduce the duration of my cold.
- Zinc lozenges: Our cells need zinc to regulate immune system response, but many of us are deficient. My doctor recommended I take one zinc lozenge 3 times a day for 3 to 4 days.
- Probiotics: These guys are already a part of my daily routine, but my doctor suggested I double my dose for a few days to give my immune system some added fuel.
- Throat Coat: This herbal tea has always been my go-to when my throat is feeling sore, and my doctor let me know that I can safely drink 3-4 cups a day with honey while I'm nursing.

My husband had a busy week coming up, so my doctor suggested he follow the same regimen to keep his body healthy since he was living with a sick person - I asked if there was anything special I ought to do for my son, but since breast milk is such a strong immunity booster on its own (in fact, my body was producing antibodies specifically targeting the virus that got me sick so my little guy would get extra protection!), she said to just keep on nursing him and do nothing extra. Happily, I'm now on the other side of my cold and no one else has succumbed! And our medicine cabinet is now stocked with some fantastic immune boosters for cold and flu season :)

Check back in soon for Part 2, a guest post from a nurse who recommends some additional fabulous natural cold remedies!

***Disclaimer: Obviously this post is NOT a good substitute for qualified medical advice in the event that you are sick and need treatment - My intention in presenting this information is simply to share my experience and highlight the fact that there are many different approaches to fighting a simple cold bug. In general, I personally support a balanced, comprehensive approach to healthcare and am lucky to have both an MD and an ND (naturopathic doctor) who provide thoughtful, holistic, evidence-based care. I'd recommend discussing the specific options I present with your own MD or ND if you'd like to stock some immune boosting supplements in your medicine cabinet this winter.

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I've spent 5+ years cleaning up my chemical act, first by researching conventional products and then by finding nontoxic solutions and making slow and steady changes. I blog about my past and current research, recommend products and DIY solutions, and present simple steps that can make a big difference in the health of your home. Harmless Home is a positive, non-judgmental place to share successes, concerns, and questions - If you're looking for entry-level ways to detox your lifestyle, then Harmless Home is for you. Welcome!
-Elisabeth